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Inequality reigns in France: 10% of French people have 50% of the wealth



The Banque de France has taken an interest in the evolution of French wealth. It has risen by 21% in fifteen years. Today, the richest 10% of households own 10 times more than the 50% least wealthy.

It’s a complex and fascinating study that the Banque de France has undertaken, and one that will leave no one indifferent as it analyzes the wealth of the French and its evolution since 2009. This kind of work is also always very sensitive, because behind the figures there are individuals and families, and it would therefore be pointless to draw generalizations. But it also enables us “to gain a more realistic understanIn the second quarter of 2023, French wealth stood at €14,041 billion. This compares with 60,231 billion euros for all households in the euro zone.ding of differences in living standards”, says Banque de France

Since 2009, French wealth has increased by 21% (taking into account price trends or constant euros) and by 61% in nominal terms (current euros). “The period between the end of 2009 and the end of 2021 is characterized by a sharp rise in property prices, which has translated into an increase in household property wealth, the main component of their assets,” says the Banque de France as a first explanation.

As evidence of this, it notes that rising interest rates have put the brakes on the real estate component of French household wealth. That said, in the space of 15 years, real estate assets have risen by 2,684 billion. The Banque de France also explains this increase, but “to a lesser extent, by a rise in the value of professional assets.”.

Average wealth: 446,000 euros; median wealth: 185,000 euros

Average wealth is 446,000 euros (55% real estate, 35% financial assets, and 15% business assets). This figure should be treated with caution, however, as the median wealth is 185,000 euros. This means that there are as many households with at least this amount as there are with more. At the end of the second quarter of 2023, the richest 10% of households had assets worth 7,609 billion euros—half of total wealth. On the other side of the spectrum, the bottom 50% of households own 705 billion euros. In other words, the richest 10% of households (2,418,000 euros) own 10 times more than the bottom 50%.

“The wealth gap between households has tended to widen slightly since 2009,” notes the Banque de France. On the basis of a statistical indicator, the Gini index, which reflects the level of inequality for a given variable and population; it varies between 0 (perfect equality) and 1 (extreme inequality), it notes three phases since 2009: an increase between 2009 and 2011 linked to the rise in stock markets, a stabilization thereafter, and a decrease in 2022 following the decline in financial markets. This situation can be observed almost everywhere in the euro zone.

The Banque de France also noted that “household wealth in France is much more unequally distributed than income.”. For example, if we take the 10% of households with the highest incomes, their average disposable income is three times higher than the median income, while the wealthiest 10% of households have assets eight times higher than the median.

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